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Create a Growth Culture, Not a Performance-Obsessed One

Create a Growth Culture, Not a Performance-Obsessed One

Here’s the dilemma: In a competitive, complex, and volatile business environment, companies need more from their employees than ever. But the same forces rocking businesses are also overwhelming employees, driving up their fear, and compromising their capacity.

It’s no wonder that so many C-Suite leaders are focused on how to build higher performance cultures.  The irony, we’ve found, is that building a culture focused on performance may not be the best, healthiest, or most sustainable way to fuel results. Instead, it may be more effective to focus on creating a culture of growth.

A culture is simply the collection of beliefs on which people build their behavior. Learning organizations – Peter Senge’s term — classically focus on intellectually oriented issues such as knowledge and expertise.  That’s plainly critical, but a true growth culture also focuses on deeper issues connected to how people feel, and how they behave as a result. In a growth culture, people build their capacity to see through blind spots; acknowledge insecurities and shortcomings rather than unconsciously acting them out; and spend less energy defending their personal value so they have more energy available to create external value. How people feel — and make other people feel — becomes as important as how much they know.

Our approach owes a debt to the groundbreaking work of Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey around building “deliberately developmental cultures.” Building a growth culture, we’ve found, requires a blend of individual and organizational components:

  1. An environment that feels safe, fueled first by top by leaders willing to role model vulnerability and take personal responsibility for their shortcomings and missteps.
  2. A focus on continuous learning through inquiry, curiosity and transparency, in place of judgment, certainty and self-protection.
  3. Time-limited, manageable experiments with new behaviors in order to test our unconscious assumption that changing the status quo is dangerous and likely to have negative consequences.
  4. Continuous feedback – up, down and across the organization – grounded in a shared commitment to helping each other grow and get better.

By contrast, a performance-driven culture often exacerbates people’s fears by creating up a zero-sum game in which people are either succeeding or failing and “winners” quickly get weeded out from “losers.” Results also matter in growth cultures, but in addition to rewarding success, they also treat failures and shortcomings as critical opportunities for learning and improving, individually and collectively.

These are easy words to say, but they’re much harder to practice.  Instinctively, we’re each inclined to hide, rationalize, minimize, cover up, and deny our weaknesses and mistakes because they make us feel vulnerable, at risk, and unworthy. These fears narrow and limit our perspective rather than enlarging it — at a time when the complexity of the problems we face often exceeds the complexity of thinking necessary to solve them.

We began building a growth culture at my own company in the aftermath of a tumultuous period during which we brought in several new leaders, with different skill sets, to reinvent what we provided to clients and how we ran our business. Until then, we had always been a conflict-averse culture, preferring to see ourselves as a happy family for as long as our business prospered.  Resentments got pushed beneath the surface, but they became harder to contain as we struggled through this period of change and uncertainty. Tension grew between our old and new employees, and our old and new ways of running our business.  As CEO, I was seen as insufficiently respectful of who we’d been, and what values needed to be retained.

Once our new team was in place and I had greater clarity about the path forward, my first instinct was to surface the remaining tensions across the organization, and then work to be more transparent with one another. But realistically, we hadn’t built enough safety to make that possible. Instead, we began our work with our smaller team of senior leaders, inviting all employees to anonymously share their relative level of trust in each of us, in areas including our honesty, intentions, authenticity, skills, integrity, standards, and results.

The feedback we got was raw and tough. When we sat down together to discuss it, we agreed to try to view the feedback through a lens of personal responsibility, rather than defensively. One of my colleagues jumped in courageously, owning her inclination to be controlling and harsh at times, and reflecting on what in her past influenced that self-protective behavior. She made no excuses, and her vulnerability set the tone for the rest of us.  We followed by sharing the toughest feedback we’d each received, what felt most significant about it, and where we thought it came from, and what behaving differently would look like  It was intense and demanding work, but we all left feeling buoyed.

A week later, we shared specific experiments we had devised to try out new ways of behaving in response to the primary challenge each of us had defined. We also agreed to meet once a week to share progress and setbacks, and invite feedback from one another.  Eight weeks later, at an offsite, we shared with the rest of the company what we’d heard from them, what had resonated for us most deeply, and what we were doing about it.  We’d begun the journey of building our own growth culture.

Perhaps the most fundamental lesson we’ve learned – including in our subsequent work with clients – is that fueling growth requires a delicate balance between challenging and nurturing.  Think about a young child beginning to venture into the world. The infant crawls away from its mother to explore the environment, but frequently looks back and returns periodically in order to feel reassured and comforted.  We are not so different as adults. Too much challenge, too continuously – without sufficient reassurance — eventually overwhelms us and breaks us down. Too little challenge – too much time spent in our comfort zone – precludes our growth and eventually makes us weaker.

A performance culture asks, “How much energy can we mobilize?” and the answer is only a finite amount.  A growth culture asks, “How much energy can we liberate?” and the answer is infinite.

How To Stay Focused When You Have A Flexible Schedule

Ah, autonomy. Isn’t it grand? No defined time when you have to arrive at the office. No guilt over having to leave early for your kid’s recital. And if you’re not feeling well or the roads are bad, no problem–just work from home.


But is it ever really that simple? After all, other things become more salient when you’re working from home, like that pile of laundry that needs to get done, or a plethora of mindless daytime TV viewing options. That’s one issue with autonomy–it’s entirely up to you to get your stuff done. You have to set your own deadlines and hold yourself accountable to deliverables, because no one is looking over your shoulder.


Perhaps it’s a mixed blessing. According to the National Workplace Flexibility Study, 98% of managers who implement a flexible work schedule see no negative drawbacks. Rather, they see results like better communication, interaction, and productivity. So, it’s not that simple–managing a flexible schedule requires a strong balance of managerial trust and personal accountability.


But what does the latter look like? How can you still manage to get stuff done with the boundaries that many of us became accustomed to before we had this kind of autonomy? As it turns out, it’s more than possible–and we’ve got a few tips.

5 Reasons To use MicroLearning

5 Reasons to Use MicroLearning
5 Reasons to Use MicroLearning | painting and decorating |

MicroLearning is a form of learning that delivers key concepts in as short an amount of time as possible. It is a short, sharp, just-in-time snippet. I like to think of microLearning as ‘short enough to watch standing up on the job’. It’s when you need a quick tip, brush up on a specific skill or have a moment to learn about new product between customers.


What are the 5 advantages of microLearning?

1.   Timely Learning.The greatest advantage of microLearning is time. Imagine a manager racing through their day. They have a performance management meeting with an employee but have not had the time to read up on the correct procedure to follow. Or a railway engineer arriving at a broken down train and the broken axle is something he hasn’t unbolted for 12 months. Neither of them have the time to scroll through three layers on the company’s Intranet, find the LMS, log on and watch the 20-minute module.


What they want is to go to their phone, open an App, and BAM! There is the 3-minute microLearning video. It’s all about timely learning.

2.   Speed to Market.One of our clients is a global Japanese car manufacturer. They require an eLearning module for every new model released. They don’t have months to plan for product training. They need learning NOW! What companies require is microLearning with rapid development that matches their timeline for product delivery.

3.   Expiry DateLearning’s expiry date is faster than ever. It used to be that a learning program would last a few years before it needs refreshing but with changing products, people and systems, learning is being discarded faster and needs to be produced cheaply, yet with quality. MicroLearning is a cost effective and fast way to develop training content, making it a win/win for the companies and the learners.

4.   Pictures are powerfulAround 70% of millennials visit YouTube monthly. It is a large part of their life so it seems obvious that we should adapt learning to what they are familiar with. When millennials need to learn something, they watch a 2 minute YouTube video.

Research teaches us that if you hear something, after 3 days, you would have only retained 10% of what you learnt. If you then add a picture to that, retention increases to 65% – that’s 6 times better! Using video in MicroLearning makes it stick. Our brain links what we hear to a picture and retention is greater.

5.   MobileOne of our Pharma clients is investing in Asia. The people they are training in Asia have limited access to computers, but they all have smartphones. How do they train them? MicroLearning. They make it engaging, enjoyable, entertaining and most of all mobile compatible. The training is mobile, so that they can watch it standing up on the job, or sitting on the bus or train.


MicroLearning is certainly leading the way in creating new and exciting learning content, whilst making the process easier for both the companies and their employees. Send me a message if you’d like to find out more on our microLearning offering and what we can offer.


Chris Gaborit is managing director of The Learning Factor, an eLearning company who loves technology linked to learning. Follow him here on Linkedin, on Twitter @droneservicesAU and Instagram @idronefoto

Via The Learning Factor

4 Ways To Build an Innovative Team

4 Ways to Build an Innovative Team | painting and decorating |

One of the most common questions I get asked by senior managers is “How can we find more innovative people?” I know the type they have in mind — someone energetic and dynamic, full of ideas and able to present them powerfully. It seems like everybody these days is looking for an early version of Steve Jobs.


Yet in researching my book, Mapping Innovation, I found that most great innovators were nothing like the mercurial stereotype. In fact, almost all of them were kind, generous, and interested in what I was doing. Many were soft-spoken and modest. You would notice very few of them in a crowded room.


So the simplest answer is that you need to start by empowering the people already in your organization. But to do that, you need to take responsibility for creating an environment in which your people can thrive. That’s no simple task, and most managers have difficulty with it. Nevertheless, by following a few simple principles you can make a huge difference.

6 Morning Habits (That Aren’t Meditation) That Help You Focus All Day

6 Morning Habits (That Aren’t Meditation) That Help You Focus All Day | Business Brainpower with the Human Touch |

You’ve probably experienced the frustration of being distracted at work. Perhaps you were pulled into a never-ending Slack discussion, and when it finally ended you struggled to focus on the task you were working on. Or a coworker criticized you, and now you can’t stop replaying his comments in your head.


It’s totally normal to lose focus after a period of time (which is why you should be taking regular breaks). But if you find yourself easily distracted throughout the day, you might want to consider tweaking some of your morning habits. They probably won’t eliminate all distractions, but you’ll at least start your workday strong building a good foundation for the rest of the day.

The Learning Factor’s insight:

These habits can’t eliminate all of life’s distractions, but they will help you start off your day strong and in a better place to focus.

8 Easy Workspace Fixes to Improve Productivity, Mood, Creativity, and Health

Yesterday I walked into my home office and examined the space from a fresh perspective. It hasn’t had a facelift in about ten years and I’ve hardly noticed its dingy appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I love my office but it’s simply out of date and no longer reflects my personality. It’s time for a change.

Approaching the challenge like any diligent, problem-solving coach, I did my research. What does science say about an office space that boosts energy, creativity, and productivity, all while projecting a safe, calm feeling for clients? Yes, it’s possible, and you can do it all on your own. Here’s what I’ve learned.

1. Use color, but not just any color.

Color psychology studies (and there are many) reveal changes in the body and brain when people view certain colors. These changes influence productivity, creativity, health, stress levels, focus, communication, and emotions. That’s some powerful influence!

Color psychologist Angela Wright explains the phenomenon this way: “Color travels to us on wavelengths of photons from the sun. Those are converted into electrical impulses that pass to the part of the brain known as the hypothalamus, which governs our endocrine system and hormones, and much of our activity.”

First decide what’s most important about how color affects you, your employees, and your visitors. In an interview with Chris Bailey, Wright offered this simple breakdown of the effects of color on the mind: “The four psychological primaries are: red, blue, yellow, and green. And they affect the body (red), the mind (blue), the emotions, the ego, and self-confidence (yellow), and the essential balance between the mind, the body, and the emotions (green).” But it’s not that simple. Bailey nicely breaks down the process of choosing just the right color in this article.

2. Trendy furniture is nice, but ergonomic is essential.

Trendy furnishings are nice but be careful not to go too trendy or you’ll be furnishing the space again within a few of years. While the look and feel of your furniture are certainly important–ergonomic design is of most importance.

Prevent ergonomic injury by learning more about safe chair and desk options. Studies show that changing posture during working hours reduces odds of injury, so make sure that your chair adjusts in every way possible and has breathable fabric. I spent a small fortune on my office chair and I thank myself for it every day. This ergonomics research on emerging risks and solutions breaks it down nicely.

3. Protect your back–literally.

Before you purchase new furnishings give careful thought to placement. Your natural instincts will keep you on alert if your back is facing a door or window. If your space allows, face the door so you can always see who’s coming in or passing by. Even in a home office, your instincts will keep you in a subtle state of alertness, regardless of an empty house, and even this low level of stress may make it difficult to focus. If your back must face the door, position or hang a mirror so that you can see behind you without having to turn around.

4. Introduce live plants.

Again, countless studies support the claim that indoor plants in the workplace provide better air quality and have many psychological benefits. This study draws a link between decreased sick days and increased productivity when plants are placed strategically throughout the office.

Here’s a list of the most popular, easy to care for, indoor plants:

  • Rubber tree
  • Corn plants
  • English Ivy
  • Aloe
  • Bamboo
  • Peace Lily
  • Parlor Palm
  • Snake plant
  • Boston Fern

5. Display your dream board.

While many dismiss the idea of a dream board (also referred to as a vision board) there is science behind this theory. Personally, I’m never without an updated vision board because I know what an impact it has on my life and business.

It’s simple and fun, so make this project a family event. I tell you how to build your dream board in this article.

6. Organize and eliminate clutter.

While in a previous article I told you why a little clutter can enhance creativity, major clutter creates stress. It dominates your mind because it keeps so many things on your radar. You glance over at the stack of invoices you need to pay, for instance, and you instantly feel pressured. Put your stacks away, and you’ll feel less overwhelmed, exhausted, and depressed. To further eliminate stress, organize things so they are easy to find.

If your storage and filing systems are openly visible, make sure they coordinate in color and style.

7. Proper lighting makes all the difference.

The benefits of natural light are undeniable. The southern exposure in my office keeps me happy, alert, and focused. If you don’t have the option of a sunny exposure purchase a full spectrum light. Here’s a recent review citing the top ten light therapy options.

Poor lighting can cause eye strain and headaches, so make sure you have ample light over your work area.

8. Make room for a break area, even in a small office.

Even the smallest office can contain a makeshift break area. I have a comfortable chair near the window so I can take in a bit of nature. I value the time it gives me away from the computer–even though the desk is only about four feet away. A change of environment will give your brain and body a much-needed break and can spark creative insights.

If your office space houses employees then a break room–even a full-blown lounge–is essential. Take a page from the Google book of company culture and create a casual co-working space to encourage collaboration and inspire creativity.

Now you have everything you need to create a space that inspires and energizes you. It’s well worth the time, thought, and investment.

Leaders From Linkedin, Amazon, and Tesla Say These Are the 5 Trends Shaping Talent Development

Leaders From LinkedIn, Amazon, and Tesla Say These Are the 5 Trends Shaping Talent Development

Leaders From LinkedIn, Amazon, and Tesla Say These Are the 5 Trends Shaping Talent Development | painting and decorating |

While it’s relatively easy for competitors to implement technology similar to yours, duplicate your strategy, and even mimic your culture, they can’t clone your people. That’s why most organizations agree talent is a top priority. At the end of the day, people are your truest form of sustainable competitive advantage.


To expand the capabilities of their best asset, most organizations invest in some form of continued development. Research from the Brandon Hall Group revealed the average training budget for large organizations hovers around $13 million. Also, out of all the delivery mediums available (i.e., mobile apps, simulations, and e-learning), classroom settings are still chosen 22 percent more often than any other modality.


This research came as a bit of a surprise, given all the advancements in technology. Although the study also indicated classroom settings were effective, I couldn’t help but think that many companies are behind the times.


As a part of the research, Rallyware, a training platform that delivers adaptive learning solutions, interviewed learning and development thought leaders to get their perspective on how technology will shape the future of corporate training.

Through these interviews, five e-learning trends emerged:

1. Employees will learn on the go.I’m not the only one who says yes to projects that I’m not 100 percent certain I can do, right? My motto is say yes and figure it out later. It’s risky, but it’s also a lot of fun. I can’t tell you how many times a YouTube video or an on-demand course from has saved me.


Kevin Delaney, VP of learning and development at LinkedIn, realizes that future corporate training must adopt to these types of situations. Two-day workshops aren’t efficient enough. We need access to just-in-time solutions that help us troubleshoot issues within minutes. In his interview, Delaney offered valuable insight that foreshadows future learning tools: When employees are stuck, they want the answer quickly.

It doesn’t help them to sign up for a class that will happen three weeks from now and sit through a four-hour session to get the answer they need this minute. They are more inclined to engage in learning if they can watch a short video that they have access to 24/7 on any device.

2. The learning experience will be highly customized.Different learning styles and varying role responsibilities are making big-box, off-the-shelf learning solutions less and less effective. Now, customized and concentrated learning experiences are critical. Employees need access to content that’s relevant, easily digestible, and engaging.


Delaney offered some opinions on how personalized training should be delivered:


First, don’t bore people. Bored people don’t learn. Second, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to learning. Companies need to offer a variety of solutions and focus on creating a one-size-fits-one experience.

3. Learning and development professionals won’t create but curate.The amount of content on the web is unbelievable. Udemy, an e-learning provider, has more than 65,000 courses on its site alone. With employees’ increased access to content, learning is now a dual responsibility. Learning and development professionals can pinpoint key learning areas and vehicles and employees can be proactive about owning their development.

The days of creating a huge list of internal content are changing, says Beth Loeb Davies, director of learning and development at Tesla:


At this point, I believe that we don’t need to produce our own content in organizations as often as we did before but rather find the right material and deliver it to those who need it when they need it … People are already learning through alternative media. Our role is becoming to curate resources in the context of the company culture and people’s needs.

4. Employees’ job responsibilities will be mixed.Many organizations are shifting to flatter and more efficient org charts. However, the same amount of work still needs to get done. It’s not uncommon to see employees operating outside their job descriptions. If organizations expect to do more with less, then they’ll need to broaden the scope of skills development, says Tom Brown, VP of HR Americas and APAC at eBay:


Companies will need to ensure that there are opportunities for their employees to build a quorum of different skill sets which won’t necessarily be linked to their job titles. It means that there will be a decreasing emphasis on the career ladder, as we know it.

5. The data-driven approach to talent development will be a matter of course.Data is a powerful validator, especially for cost-center functions like learning and development. Now, through advances in technology, initiatives that were traditionally seen as nice-to-haves can produce quantitative results proving their value. HR (the department in which learning and development professionals sit) will have to adjust, says Kvon Tucker, an Amazon global leadership development partner.


HR will need to become more data driven … Learning experience data will be most valuable to companies, to help them track and correlate the most important experiences to the development outcomes needed for the organization.


This is a lot to take in. If leaders want to address all these trends, then they’ll have to consider new technology including artificial intelligence, data, and machine learning. These tools are giving leaders the ability to analyze individual behavior and then deliver the right content to the right people at the right time on the preferred device. If you haven’t already, take a look at microlearning, big data, and gamification to see if they’re the right solution for your organization.

15 Favorite Interview Questions to Completely Disarm Job Candidates (in a Really Good Way)

15 Favorite Interview Questions to Completely Disarm Job Candidates (in a Really Good Way) | painting and decorating |

Maybe your favorite interview question is one of the most common interview questions. Maybe it’s one of the most common behavioral interview questions. Or maybe you have a less conventional interview question you like to ask, like those asked by these company founders and CEOs.


What is your favorite interview question? To find out, we asked the Inc. community on LinkedIn to provide their favorites, as well as their reasons why. Below are some of the responses; go here and here to see them all.


1. “What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?”


The answer can be personal or professional. What the candidate accomplished isn’t as important as how — and why. What were the hurdles? What were the roadblocks? Did the candidate seek help? Does the candidate credit the people who helped?


The answer also can provide insight into how the candidate defines “hard,” and how their perspective align with the challenges your business faces.

A look at a Mountain Range

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Kitchen Remodeling

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